She’s a force to be reckoned with managing kids, their belongings, meltdowns, homework, schedules, well-being, and health. At the same time, she attends to her own deadlines, tasks, and emotions. Can she truly maintain this intricate balancing act, or is something bound to slip through the cracks as she juggles it all?
Let’s talk about the superhero powers of working mothers. These fierce women face a never-ending battle to balance their career and family responsibilities, yet they persevere. They multitask with finesse, ensuring everything remains in place even when the world threatens to crumble around them.
So, what are the biggest challenges? One of the biggest difficulties working mothers face is trying to be in two places at once. They strive to attend their children’s important events while also being present and productive at work. It’s like trying to play two roles in a Broadway show, but without any rehearsal time.
Another struggle for working mothers is dealing with the guilt that comes with trying to balance everything. They feel guilty for missing precious moments with their kids and guilty for not being fully focused on their work. It’s a constant battle to strike the right equilibrium and not let guilt consume them.
Furthermore, working mothers often face unfair barriers to their career advancement, including gender wage gaps and a lack of support in the workplace. It’s like they must fight for their place in the industry, and sometimes it feels like this will never end.
To gain insight into diverse perspectives and experiences, we sat down for a heart-to-heart with four exceptional women from BrightMarbles, who are not only killing it at work, but also crushing the mom game. First up, we have Tamara – a Scrum Master who is raising her 12-year-old daughter solo. Next is Miroslava, a coding queen with a 7-year-old son who keeps her agile. Svetlana, the Marketing Specialist, manages to balance her career with being a devoted mom to her two sons (aged 10 and 6) and a little princess aged 2. Lastly, we have Nevena, the Chief Experience Officer of the BrightMarbles Group, who leads her team with unwavering determination while valiantly raising her spirited 2-year-old daughter.
Do you experience work differently since you are a mother?
Tamara: Being a mother has impacted how I approach work since my daughter looks up to me as a role model. I aim to set a positive example by approaching my work with passion, dedication, and purpose, not just for myself but also for my daughter’s future. It has helped me see work as an opportunity to make a positive impact on her future and has given me greater motivation and purpose in my career.
Miroslava: Of course. Firstly, becoming a mother motivated me to find a job closer to home, to avoid wasting time on long commutes. It also accelerated my career change from philology to information technology. While I managed both fields before motherhood, it became nearly impossible to maintain the same quality of work and inner peace after my child’s arrival.
Svetlana: Honestly, no. The only thing that influences how I will look at work is itself, the company I work for, my colleagues, and myself. Maybe the challenges are bigger or just different, I haven’t decided yet. 😊
Nevena: Oh, absolutely! Before I became a mom, I was all about chasing my career ambitions. But then Kika came along, and everything changed. I began to see work differently, focusing on the importance of balancing professional and personal life, and understanding that family truly comes first. This new mindset has also made me more empathetic towards my colleagues who juggle family commitments. I feel fortunate to be part of a company that supports me in fostering a nurturing atmosphere for my team.
“When my kids understand that work is important and my employer knows family is a priority, everyone can be okay.” Svetlana Kosić, Marketing Specialist
How do you manage to balance your role as a mother and your career?
Tamara: Balancing motherhood and a career has been a journey for me, but I’ve found that effective time management and prioritization have helped me achieve a better balance. I prioritize tasks based on importance and urgency, dedicating specific hours for my daughter without distractions. I focus on quality time with her, being fully present during shared activities. This requires compartmentalizing my time, focusing on one thing at a time. In summary, effective time management and learning to be present have allowed me to maintain a fulfilling career while being there for my daughter.
Miroslava: I strive to find a balance between work and parenting by organizing my time efficiently. With my husband’s support, we complement each other to ensure that our child receives the attention she needs. However, there are times when my child’s enthusiasm for playing school distracts me from my work, but I sometimes find that these moments inspire me to solve problems or come up with new ideas.
Svetlana: Juggling work and motherhood can be a rollercoaster ride, sometimes smooth and sometimes bumpy, depending on how you look at it. For the most part, I think I’m doing pretty well at balancing both. But let’s be real, there are moments when I feel like I’m dropping the ball on one or the other. The secret to finding that sweet balance spot isn’t just up to me, though. It also depends on how my kids and my employer see the situation. If my kids understand that I got to work sometimes, and my employer knows that family comes first, then I think we’re all going to be alright.
Nevena: It’s certainly not a breeze, but I’m lucky to have a fantastic support system. For example, my husband and I split household chores and childcare duties equally so that we could both focus on our careers and still be there for our family. We often discuss our teamwork and tweak things as needed to keep us both happy and in sync. My mom’s a lifesaver! She takes care of Kika when we’re working, and I can’t thank her enough. Plus, my colleagues are really supportive, making it so much easier to handle both roles. Oh, and I can’t forget my planner – it’s my go-to sidekick! While I may not get everything right, I put in my best effort, and I hope that’s what ultimately counts.
Have you faced any particular challenges while balancing motherhood and work? How did you overcome them?
Tamara: Balancing motherhood and work has been challenging for me, especially since my daughter is now 12 years old and I work from home. One moment I’m consoling her about puberty problems and conflicts with friends, and the next I’m using my Scrum Master skills to resolve conflicts with colleagues. It was funny in hindsight, but not so much in the moment. I’ve also tried to encourage my colleagues to turn on their cameras during meetings, but they resisted. I used my daughter’s example of going to school even when her hair wasn’t perfect to convince them. Overall, it’s been a balancing act between being there for my daughter and being present in my work, but I’m finding ways to make it work.
Miroslava: During the Covid-19 pandemic, working from home posed significant challenges for me, especially since my 4-year-old son required constant attention and care. With kindergartens closed, I had to juggle work responsibilities and my son’s needs while dealing with the stress of the situation. Although I managed to meet both demands, it was a very stressful period for me. Now that my son is 7, he understands that his parents need to work, and things seem less challenging.
Svetlana: Picture this: One morning, all three of my kids are acting up – one with a fever, the other with a high temperature, and the third has completely forgotten about his art class project and needs to go to the bookstore ASAP. Meanwhile, I have a super important work deadline coming up that I can’t miss. Luckily, since I work remotely, I don’t have to leave the kids behind, but it still takes some serious creativity and focus to juggle both roles at the same time. I just had to take a deep breath and go for it. And somehow, I managed to make it work.
Nevena: Oh boy, where do I start? I’ve certainly had my fair share of wild moments, like juggling Kika’s meltdowns during important work calls. As you can imagine, it gets pretty chaotic with a toddler around! I’ve learned that staying calm and prioritizing Kika’s needs is vital in these tricky situations. At times, I’ve had to excuse myself, hit the mute button, and tend to her until she calmed down. There have also been times when I’ve had to reschedule calls or delegate tasks to my teammates. Flexibility and open communication with my colleagues are key in navigating these challenges. They’ve been really understanding, and I’m grateful for their support.
“Most of the time, I stick to good organization to make sure everything runs smoothly.” Miroslava Debeljački Jovičić, Software Engineer
Have you ever felt guilty about prioritizing work over your family or vice versa?
Tamara: I often feel guilty when I have to choose between work and family. But, I deal with it by reminding myself that balance is important and being present in the moment is key. To make it work, I set clear boundaries and schedule my time carefully. This means that when I’m working, I’m 100% focused on work, and when I’m with my family, I’m all there with them. It’s not always easy, and it doesn’t always work out perfectly, but it helps me manage my responsibilities better and feel less guilty.
Miroslava: Usually, I’m pretty good at prioritizing stuff, but sometimes I feel guilty when I can’t give my child attention during important moments because of work (like when I have a meeting or a deadline). To make myself feel better, I try to rationalize and explain to my child that they have to wait a bit. I think it teaches them patience, and that’s important too. But if something urgent comes up, like a doctor’s appointment, I put work on hold and take care of my child without hesitation. I make sure to organize my day to balance my work and family responsibilities. I decide which obligations require more attention at the given moment, but that doesn’t happen often. Most of the time, I stick to good organization to make sure everything runs smoothly. I’m still learning not to stress out so much about prioritizing and to trust that everything will get done in a reasonable time.
Svetlana: No matter what I prioritize, there are times when I feel like I’m losing myself – whether it’s because work is taking over or because the kids are demanding all my attention. But to me, balancing isn’t just about juggling two separate things. It’s about finding balance within myself. Sometimes I’ll lean more towards work, and other times I’ll lean more towards my family. It’s a constant shift, but what matters most is that I maintain that balance and keep both feet firmly on the ground.
Nevena: Absolutely, I’ve felt guilty at times, and I used to joke that I was half-person and half-sense of guilt. But I’ve come to realize that it’s all about prioritizing what’s most important at any given moment. Sometimes work demands more attention, while other times, my family needs me more. To find the right balance, I set clear boundaries and plan my time carefully. This approach allows me to be fully focused on work when I’m working and fully present with my family when I’m with them. It’s not always easy, but accepting that priorities shift helps me handle those feelings of guilt and maintain a healthier work-life balance.
Can you think of a time when your child unexpectedly taught you a valuable lesson about work-life balance?
Tamara: My kid taught me a valuable lesson about work-life balance when she stayed up all night studying for a crucial exam but lost focus at some point. It hit me that I needed to rethink my approach to work and avoid getting too obsessed with it so that I end up losing focus like her. It was like seeing myself in a mirror, and it taught me that achieving balance between work and life is better for both in the long run.
Miroslava: Nope, not yet! But hope never dies! :))) As I mentioned earlier, I have a little workaholic on my hands. As soon as he gets home from school, he wants to play school with his parents. 🙂
Svetlana: One time, my kid drew a picture of our living room, complete with a laptop and the BrightMarbles logo in a speech bubble above a woman’s head – which he said was me. It was cute, but I felt a little guilty that there was only a logo in the bubble (even though I do think about work a lot 😅). A few months later, my younger boy drew a similar picture, but this time, there was a heart in the speech bubble above my head. When I asked what I was thinking about in that picture, my kid said “love”. Maybe the heart was a sign that I had changed my ways, or maybe it was just a sweet gesture from my little one – either way, it made me feel good.
Nevena: One evening, as I was buried in my laptop, trying to wrap up a project, Kika was playing nearby. Suddenly, she waddled over to me and started tugging at my leg, giving me those irresistible “pick me up” eyes. I realized she just wanted some cuddle time with her mom, and I had been too absorbed in my work to notice. Seeing her eagerness to connect with me really hit me hard. I realized that while my work is important, it’s crucial to be present and cherish the moments I have with Kika, as she won’t be this little forever. That experience continues to serve as a reminder of the importance of balancing my two roles.
“I feel really lucky to have experienced firsthand how awesome BrightMarbles is at supporting me both as a mom and an employee.” Tamara Petrović, Scrum Master
In your opinion, what makes BrightMarbles a good fit for working mothers and how has BrightMarbles supported you in juggling your responsibilities as a mother and an employee?
Tamara: I feel really lucky to have experienced firsthand how awesome BrightMarbles is at supporting me both as a mom and an employee. They give me all the tools and resources I need to succeed in my role, and they totally get it when I need to put my family first. But it’s not just about the practical stuff, like working from home and having a flexible schedule. There’s also this amazing culture at BrightMarbles that’s super supportive of working moms. They really respect us and appreciate everything we do, and you can feel it in the office. It’s such a game-changer to feel valued and appreciated by your colleagues – it makes a huge difference in how happy you are with your job and your life overall.
Miroslava: When I work at BrightMarbles, I can usually organize my time flexibly. If something comes up during working hours, like my child getting sick, I can finish my work later. Plus, I can use up to five days of sick leave without having to go to the doctor, which is super helpful when my child is sick and doesn’t necessarily need a doctor’s visit. This policy applies to dads too, not just moms, which is awesome.
Svetlana: To be honest, for me, BrightMarbles is like having an extra partner (besides my actual partner, ofc). I can’t imagine a more supportive workplace for us jugglers. Luckily, my boss and I have a great relationship built on trust, which makes balancing work and life a whole lot easier. Whenever I think that the child’s new high temperature is a limit that I must not cross for the third time in the same month (or even week), I remember the words of my boss “Nothing is burning, take a day off and take care of your child” In those moments her “Nothing is burning” sounds more beautiful than the sound of waves on a summer’s eve, I swear.
Nevena: What sets BrightMarbles apart is the strong emphasis on fostering a flexible and inclusive work environment. Everyone here gets that life throws curveballs and being a mom is like having another full-time job. The entire management team understands the unique obstacles parents and caretakers face, and we believe that supporting our teammates in finding the right work-life balance is key to a positive company culture. Also, the parent perks at BrightMarbles aren’t just lip service; they genuinely make a difference for families. For instance, I can work remotely, be there for Kika when she needs me, or tweak my schedule as necessary.
What changes do you think other companies should make to better support working mothers?
Tamara: Provide flexible work options: Offering flexible work options like remote work or flexible hours can assist working mothers in managing their work and family obligations.
Miroslava: I reckon that every company should offer flexible working hours and the option to work from home, tailored to the type of work a working mother (or parent in general) does. It’s crucial to have understanding and flexibility for parents who need to rearrange their working day from time to time. As long as the job is done on time and meets the required quality, there’s no need to stick to strict rules.
Svetlana: All we really need is to be flexible, trust each other, and have more humanity and understanding for the little things that come up with our little devils at the last minute.
Nevena: For starters, it’s time for them to step up and realize that being a mom is a full-time job, and that it’s not easy juggling work and family. Options like work-from-home, flexible schedules, and fully paid parental leave should be offered. And let’s not forget about single moms and parents of kids with disabilities. They deserve some extra support too, like additional days off or other forms of assistance. Overall, it’s about cultivating a culture that embraces working moms and recognizes the value they bring to the workplace.
“It’s time for companies to step up and realize that being a mom is a full-time job, and that it’s not easy juggling work and family.” Nevena Nemeš, CXO
What advice would you give to working mothers struggling to balance their responsibilities?
Tamara: I think working from home is a great help when it comes to maintaining a healthy work-life balance as a mother. To achieve this balance, flexibility is key. It’s important to have the freedom to adapt your schedule in case of any unexpected events or emergencies that may come up. Another important factor is taking care of yourself and prioritizing your well-being. This might involve setting aside some time for exercise, meditation, or just taking a break to recharge your batteries. Lastly, it’s important to stop feeling guilty and concentrate on being present and engaged in the moment.
Miroslava: Daily organization is essential, and we should always prioritize our obligations in the right way, even if something unexpected comes up. I suggest being honest and open with both your child and colleagues or clients. And don’t forget to enjoy the small and big joys that come with being a parent, whenever you can.
Svetlana: Trust your gut! You’re usually spot on. Go with the flow and don’t be afraid to challenge yourself for a bigger and better leap.
Nevena: My advice would be to give yourself grace and know that it’s okay to not have everything perfectly balanced all the time. Also, build a support system, whether it’s a partner, family member, or friend who can help you out when needed. Lastly, communicate openly with your colleagues and family members about your needs and find a way to work together to achieve equilibrium. 🙂
Svetlana Kosic is a Marketing and Sales expert with over 12 years of experience in the IT industry. She’s a former radio and TV journalist, magazine editor, and team leader, and she’s interviewed numerous CEOs of the largest IT companies in the world. She’s also a skilled negotiator who fights against the stereotype that only men in suits can make a good deal—and almost met the real Santa Claus.